Wednesday, October 7, 2015

First impressions of Introductory Science (Science Shepherd)

     This is the first year we've used anything from Science Shepherd. I entered a drawing for their new Introductory Science this summer on a whim, and my name was actually drawn! We were given a calendar year's worth of access to the on demand videos, and after choosing which level of workbook I wanted it was at our doorstep in about a week. The older four kids were already firmly settled on their science for this school year, but Faith's was just going to be books from our shelves in a unit study fashion, loosely based on her American Girl history. She was very excited at the change!

    Faith is a strong little student, about a grade ahead in some subjects, right on target in others. She is a second grader who will turn 8 near the end of winter. History, science, and literature are generally her favorite subjects. Introductory Science Level A workbook is intended for ages 6-8 and Level B for ages 9-11. After glancing at the Introductory Science workbook samples I didn't hesitate to choose level B for Faith. Now that we've used it for about five weeks, I'm positive this was the right choice.

     Every lesson begins with a short 1-3 minute video, and has an accompanying worksheet in the workbook. Most of the worksheet problems are fill in the blank, true/false, or multiple choice. There haven't been more than 5-6 such exercises for each video. Randomly there are matching "puzzles", crosswords, word searches, and extra activities. Most of the activities have their own video demonstrating the project, along with a page of instructions in the book. The projects have ranged from making an animal with clay, leaf rubbings, and the classic playdough volcano with baking soda and vinegar. All of the projects have been easy to do with items around the house, haven't been terribly messy, and were fairly easy for her to run by herself.   

     To be honest, the watch a video and fill out a worksheet method is so not me. I rather doubt I would have bought this on my own. I really enjoy doing unit study-ish living books with my little ones, and cobbling it together does not bother me.  Faith on the other hand? She adores this course! I mean big, fluffy, purple, beating heart loves this course. It's almost always the first subject she grabs in the mornings. ♥

     This is general science course. It covers a wide variety of topics, and doesn't go terribly deep into any of them. It would be really simple to flesh it out with living books, DVDs, and field trips. Faith can easily do a day's work in ten minutes or less. She usually does 2 lessons a day, and occasionally 3 or 4. Then there's the random day she just does one and puts it back on the shelf. I've left the decision up to her for the most part. She will finish week 8 of the book this week, which is her fifth week using the course.


  • easy to use for parent and child
  • can be used independently and easy to grade at a glance, though it does come with an answer key - It's seriously easy enough to use I've had her siblings help her in a pinch when I had to be out for half a day and they did fabulous.
  • easy to supplement (I'm not adding extra work for her, but I am laying out books about the topics where she can browse as desired.)
  • Tickles my seven year old to no end!
  • It's exposing her to a broader range of science fields than the typical book for this age.
  • It uses REAL scientific terms and explains what they mean instead of using simpler terms.
  • She's absorbing the science and applying it to the world around her.


  • The guy on the video is pretty lifeless and monotone, but since the clips are so short Faith doesn't have time to tune him out. 
  • The age ratings on the workbooks is over-estimated in our experience. I can't fathom handing this workbook to an average 10 or 11 year old. If you were just using it as the spine for further study it could work I suppose.
  • The introductory phase of the book lasted for three weeks of work. Two on the creation story, and one on introductory science terms. Even working 2-3 lessons a day at first this was getting tedious for Faith, who just wanted to get to volcanoes already.

    Would I buy this for her younger brother? Maybe! Valor is just barely beginning his academic career, and I truly have no idea how good of a match he'd be for this course. If he's wanting something that looks more like a big kid course around 2nd grade I would definitely consider purchasing this course and using it again.